A Stroll At Leisure With God

"Hitting Bottom"

Before I get into the “topic” for today, I just want to tell all of you that I feel the need to be brutally honest today. Brutally. Those of you who read this blog on a consistent basis (and again, thank you so much for doing so; I’m still amazed to know that anyone does) know that, from the first, I felt led to be honest in this forum. One of the reasons is that I believe that this is a missing and yet very needed element in the church today.

Remember that Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day for hypocrisy. In the Greek, that word was originally associated with the theater and it had to do with putting on a mask like actors and actresses did in that forum.

Somehow, it seems appropriate to say in this Halloween season (one in which I have an increasing repulsion. I will say more about this later) that Christians who decry the evils of this holiday turn around and do the same thing IN the church. I believe that there are more masks in the contemporary church than there are on Halloween!

So, one of my goals in writing this blog is to challenge all of us to remove our masks!

Now, of course, there is a need for discernment in this area. There are some things that don’t need to be shared on a public or even a congregational level. The Holy Spirit is our guide at this point. However, that does not mean that we should not take off the mask with trusted friends in appropriate settings. All of us need friends. Few people have them.

I’m thankful for my family and friends and church family.

I value the contribution of Christian counselors in the kingdom of God. I believe they fill a valuable void. I often refer folks to them and (removing a mask at this point) have gone to them myself at key points in my life. BUT, I just wonder if some of us just need friends, comrades in arms, so to speak, who will just listen and care and not try to fix us.

As a pastor, I have made the startling discovery that most people that come to my office just need this. What the Spirit tells me is, “John, just shut up and listen.” It is hard work. I will tell you. The pressure on all of us as pastors and leaders and counselors is to talk and FIX THINGS. But that is not always what people need at first.

Well, anyway, I have chased a rabbit here … not sure I caught him, but all of this is a preface for a confession on my part.

Last night, I felt myself starting to sink down to a new low. And, as I was doing it, a term that Alcoholics Anonymous has coined came to mind. Now, before I progress, I am not confessing that I am an alcoholic, but I am telling all of you that I am struggling spiritually.

Anyway, the term is “hitting bottom,” and I am wondering about it as it relates to brokenness in the Christian life. And, this morning, I just have more questions.

How does one know if he or she has hit bottom? Or, how does one know if he or she is broken? Are those two questions related or not? Does it matter?

When I am dealing with a gadget of some sort and I turn the on/off switch and nothing happens, I wonder. So, I check the cord that plugs into the wall and/or open the battery compartment. If both of these avenues check out, and the gadget still does not work, then I conclude it is broken.

At that point, I have another decision to make. I can either take it to someone to see if they can fix it OR I just toss it into the trash.

Now, I am grateful that when it comes to the Lord, the “throwing it in the trash option” is not on the table. In fact, from what I know about the Lord, he specializes in those instances when the gadget (in this case—me) is at the bottom or is broken.

I don’t know a lot … but I do know THAT.

As I was writing the words above, I got a phone call this morning from a dear friend. He calls me every Sunday morning. I told him I was struggling and he prayed for me. Kind of a Job experience in reverse! But I needed that SO MUCH! God’s timing is perfect.

One passage I read that captured my attention was the story of the transfiguration in Matthew 17. Here is Jesus “on a high mountain” with Peter, James, and John. And Jesus is “transfigured” before them. There is a description of this: “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (v. 2, NASB). Will all of us see this someday? I think so.

Moses and Elijah were standing with Him.

But anyway, Peter blurts out, “Lord, it is good to be here. Let me build a tent for the three of you and we can just stay up here forever” (v. 4).

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone” (Matthew 17:5-8 NASB).
This message is similar to the one the Lord gave after Jesus’ baptism. There is one small but significant addition. These words, “Listen to Him.”

Lord, I can get all caught up in where I am and lose sight of where You are—the same place You have always been and always will be—seated on Your throne. Of all the things I need to do the main one is “listen to you.”

Thanks for the friend who called today. Thanks for my family. Thank you for my friends. I name them to you right now. Thanks for my church family and broader family—all of whom are there and praying for me.

I lift up Hans Edlund as he preaches for me today. I lift up the church as well. I give you this day. Give me ears to hear You. Amen.
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